At its narrowest, the Capitol breach spawned the Department of Justice’s legal pursuit and prosecution of participants as something approximating terrorists, and the January 6th Committee’s political pursuit and persecution of the conservative movement itself as terroristic.
One can draw a line from this dual-track effort to the never-ending push on the left to lock up President Donald Trump, force Justice Clarence Thomas off the bench, disqualify members of Congress from even running in 2022, and now, in an overlooked but uniquely sinister element of this ever-expanding jihad, for a group called “The 65 Project” to ruin the lives of conservative lawyers.
Unpopular though litigators might be, this vengeful, dangerous, and un-American manifestation of the War on Wrongthink should concern all Americans.
As The 65 Project, led in part by progressive operative and founder of the anti-conservative media “watchdog” Media Matters, David Brock, announced at its launch in a series of tweets:
We’ve come together to hold accountable the Big Lie Lawyers behind fraudulent lawsuits intended to overturn election results, and those that otherwise helped fuel insurrection.
Following Biden’s 2020 victory, an army of Big Lie Lawyers filed 65 lawsuits based on lies, in a malicious attempt to subvert democracy. They failed.
Despite resounding losses in court, Trump and his Big Lie Lawyers have not stopped. They are actively working to seize control of state and local elections, and ramp up additional litigation in ’22 and ’24.
Their deliberate abuse of the legal system emboldens future fraudulent legal actions, gives oxygen to the Big Lie, and threatens the foundation of American democracy.
Among the ironies here are that it was a raft of Democratic lawfare, state executive branch’s exploitation of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic to usurp legislative authority over elections, and an infusion of hundreds of millions of “Zuckerbucks” that enabled The 65 Project’s Democrat allies to “seize control of state and local elections” in 2020.
Democrats of course have challenged numerous presidential elections—the last three Republicans won, in fact—and of course fight all manner of legal issues around elections vigorously.
The 65 Project’s projection therefore is mind-bending.
That Trump’s lawyers sought to challenge some of this activity in court is no crime, however much the left wishes to paint it as part of the “insurrection.”
On the contrary, candidates are not only entitled to lodge legal challenges over issues such as these—when speaking of questions as weighty as the legitimacy of a presidential election, and the integrity of the electoral system itself, they are also arguably duty-bound to do so.
That the lawsuits were largely quashed on technical grounds, such as standing, rather than on the merits, is besides the point, but nevertheless worth noting since the likes of The 65 Project are loath to address it.
It is self-evidently not operating in good faith, but rather explicitly to punish its legal opponents.
How? As Axios reports, the outfit will be targeting 111 attorneys in 26 states who litigated on behalf of Trump. It will run advertisements against them. It will push to make rules for the American Bar Association and every state bar association “barring certain election challenges and adopt[ing] model language stating that ‘fraudulent and malicious lawsuits to overturn legitimate election results’”—as it defines them—“‘violate the ethical duties lawyers must abide by.’” Then the group will go further. It will, in its own words, “pursue every legal recourse – including sanctions and disbarment” against Trump lawyers. The 65 Project has already started filing complaints.
It would be chilling enough if this group aimed solely to ruin Trump’s lawyers professionally, but The 65 Project also seeks to ruin them personally.
As Brock told Axios, the idea is to “not only bring the grievances in the bar complaints, but shame them and make them toxic in their communities and in their firms.”
“I think the littler fish are probably more vulnerable to what we’re doing,” Brock said. “You’re threatening their livelihood. And, you know, they’ve got reputations in their local communities.”
Few statements could be more disgusting and un-American—and particularly from leftists who have nary a word of criticism about those such as, say, Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, who apparently went out of her way to defend actual jihadists. Suspected terrorists, it seems, deserve a defense in the American system, but not Republicans.
The 65 Project is open about its totalitarian bent, as well the obviously cynical nature of this gambit. One anonymous person involved with the project quoted by Axios said that it “is mostly important for the deterrent effect that it can bring so that you can kill the pool of available legal talent going forward.”
Why is it so imperative to destroy Trump lawyers professionally and personally? Because as Marc Elias, the most powerful and influential Democrat election lawyer of all, and his allies have forecast, upcoming elections are likely to be staked on lawfare from the left.
As noted, this held in 2020, when, as Hans von Spakovsky highlighted, Democrats and aligned organizations filed a hundred-plus lawsuits in the run-up to the election aimed at unmooring the electoral system from its traditional, and logically more secure, process of in-person voting, with an ID, on a single election day.
In a system of shifting rules, in which elections are increasingly to be determined in court rather than at the ballot box, preventing your opponent from being able to compete in the courtroom by depriving him of his lawyers makes sense.
It becomes an imperative to destroy your legal competition—at least if you subscribe to an ends-justify-the-means ethos.
The costs of The 65 Project’s efforts to the American system are staggering. As former Trump Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark, who has been targeted by the January 6th Committee, recently wrote in a seminal piece on the group:
The evenhanded application of the law is a principle that must be defended. Everywhere, balance and perspective are under attack. Whatever the costs of America’s process-heavy adversarial contests, that feature of our polity is a key bulwark of liberty. Due process is not something to be trifled with, deconstructed, or thrown away based on the passions of the political moment.
Yet that is happening, right now. The left has set the lines of battle: Any lawyers who worked for President Trump with verve and ingenuity, along with any lawyers he retained to mount his various 2020 election contests, must be crushed, must have their noses rubbed into the dirt, must if possible lose their jobs and even their right to practice law. It’s not right, just as it would not have been right to demonize the lawyers who mounted Al Gore’s challenges to the 2000 presidential election in Florida.
The Prussian military theorist Von Clausewitz is famous for his dictum that “war is the continuation of policy by other means.” Project 65 seeks to invert that: To turn politics into just another mode of all-out warfare. Attacking the dignity of the bar will be the death knell of our Anglo-American legal system and for fair, competitive politics more generally. Project 65’s lawsuits are an assault on the principle of equal protection under the law and on the Constitution’s Petition Clause. This is a fight that patriotic Americans must win, or the United States will just be the latest example of a republic decayed into a phony, failed oligarchy.
This project perfectly represents the ruling class’s broader effort to shame, censor, and, if needed, cancel perceived threats to its power and privilege through use of the politics of personal destruction, and at the cost of liberty and justice.
Dissent has become increasingly indefensible. Anything standing in the ruling class’s way must be obliterated—targeting, bankrupted, and broken.
Those unable or unwilling to recognize that our ruling class wants not just conservatives, but all opponents wiped off the playing field, and that the only response is to fight fire with fire—that is, to raise the costs of this malicious behavior to such massive levels as to wholly deter it—will be condemned to failure.
Those at the commanding heights of American society act as if they believe they will never face punishment for this kind of deplorable conduct.
This calculus has to change.
Clark provides some ways to shift the paradigm worthy of consideration.
We as Americans must be thinking more broadly about a counter-response, consistent with our values, principles, and traditions, to the broader assault on tens of millions of fellow G-d-fearing, freedom-loving, patriots.
It’s incumbent upon us to demand our leaders represent us in the face of this onslaught.
Absent such a defense, we will require a whole new set of leaders.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.